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New York Jets at Buffalo Bills Preview: Analyzing Buffalo’s key strengths, weaknesses

Buffalo Bills
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Breaking down the greatest strengths and weaknesses of the Buffalo Bills as the New York Jets prepare to march into Orchard Park.

Offensive strengths

Stefon Diggs, John Brown, Cole Beasley WR trio

With the addition of Stefon Diggs, Buffalo now boasts one of the best three-man depth charts at wide receiver in the entire league. The trio combined for 2,968 receiving yards and 18 touchdowns over 45 games last year. On a per-16 game basis, that’s about 1,055 yards and six touchdowns per player.

Diggs and Brown form a devastating one-two punch down the field. Diggs, previously known mostly for his intermediate work, took off as a deep receiver in 2019. On deep targets (20+ yards downfield), Diggs led the NFL in catches (16), yards (635), and touchdowns (6).

Brown ranked fifth in touchdowns (4), 14th in receptions (20), and 19th in yards (332) on deep targets in 2019 despite taking his targets from Josh Allen, who ranked 29th out of 32 qualified quarterbacks in adjusted completion percentage on deep throws (30.9%). Allen had a 40.7% adjusted completion percentage on deep passes to Brown and a 24.4% rate on deep passes to any other player.

In Buffalo’s 17-16 win over the Jets to open 2019, Brown posted 123 yards on seven receptions, grabbing six first downs and the go-ahead touchdown, seen below. Brown gives Darryl Roberts a double move in an attempt to create separation on the go route, but Roberts actually covers it pretty well, staying over top and not biting. Allen underthrows the ball, and Brown does a great job adjusting back to it while Roberts is very late to play the ball. Brown makes the grab through a pass interference by Roberts and waltzes into the end zone.

Brown and Diggs not only boast great long speed, but they are excellent trackers of the ball as well. Blessuan Austin and Pierre Desir need to prioritize keeping the ball in front of them and refraining from gifting Allen big plays like the one above.

Josh Allen‘s legs

Allen looks to use his legs as much as any other quarterback in the league outside of Baltimore. In 2019, he ranked second among quarterbacks in rushing first downs with 42, trailing only Lamar Jackson‘s 71 (sheesh, Lamar). Allen also led the position with nine rushing touchdowns and ranked second behind Jackson in rushing DYAR (defense-adjusted yards above replacement).

Of Allen’s 118 rushing attempts throughout the season (including the Wild Card game), 71 were designed and 47 were scrambles. He averaged only 3.6 yards per designed rush attempt, but posted 7.4 yards per scramble attempt.

In the win at MetLife, Allen scored Buffalo’s first touchdown on a three-yard scramble off of a play action bootleg. This play highlights an adjustment Gregg Williams might want to make on Sunday. The Jets have 301-pound Henry Anderson at the 5-technique spot inside of the tight end. Once Allen sees no options and decides to scramble, he is able to beat Anderson to the pylon with relative ease.

On Sunday, Williams may want to avoid using Anderson in that position and instead prioritize athleticism/speed over size/power by utilizing Kyle Phillips or Jordan Jenkins instead of Anderson if he wants to deploy a 5-tech in a 4-point stance.

Williams could even stick to using only two or three down linemen and contain the edges at all times with a standup outside linebacker or safety on either side. Jenkins, Tarell Basham, or Frankie Luvu will be tasked with maintaining contain at OLB, while Bradley McDougald or Ashtyn Davis could drop into the box and play a QB spy role in certain situations.

Offensive weaknesses

Josh Allen’s accuracy

By just about any viable metric, Allen has been a very inaccurate passer thus far.

Evaluating Allen (or any quarterback) based on his raw completion percentage is unfair. It’s a bad stat that sorely lacks any sort of context (drops, throwaways, pressure, coverage quality, receiver separation, throw depth, etc.).

However, just about every advanced metric that does include context suggests that Allen is on the money less often than most other starting quarterbacks.

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